Mental Illness is thought to be a “curse” caused by an “evil eye”. People in our villages depend on traditional faith healers for years on end.

the ant's mental illness camps in north-east

mental illness camps at the ant campus

 

In an attempt to provide a holistic community approach to mental illness, the ant started the Community Mental health Project (now called Jana Man Swasthya Programme). This ambitious project strives to look after mental health of one lakh population.

 

In a survey conducted in the villages covered under this project, around 93% people had heard of the programme and a whopping 94.2% said that the patients got better with the treatment. We are now setting up Family support groups in the project villages, which will then slowly grow as advocacy groups for rights of mentally ill patients in the future.

 

This initiative was supported by the Tata Trusts as part of their multi-partner community mental health initiative.

 

Faith healers called ojah gurus are usually the first line of treatment for villagers who see mental illness as a “curse” caused by an ‘evil eye’. Instead of rubbishing such deeply entrenched beliefs, along with making medication treatment, we decided to work with the faith healers – to understand their system better and expose them to our treatment system. It took time to win their trust, but we finally got 31 ojha gurus (both men and women) to take part in a day-long sharing programme. It was a learning experience – both ways – and by the end of the say, the faith healers were demanding many more exchanges of this nature.